Always leave it Rolfe Kent to completely defy your expectations in the best way possible. In my review of Debney’s Walk Of Shame I pointed out that comedies these days come with an edge of grit; be it sex , language or violence they all seem to come with a hard edge to it. It wasn’t meant as a criticism, just an observation. Comedies like Pineapple Express, The Hangover, Horrible Bosses, Idenity Thief, This Is The End and others derive their comedy from edginess. Bad Words is about a middle-aged man causing mayhem by exposing a loophole and entering spelling bees for children. Lots of vulgarity and hilarity ensues. Rolfe Kent could have gone the expected route and followed the successful formula of what Christopher Lennertz or Christophe Beck have done, but he doesn’t. Bad Words ends up being freshly original, having tons of character and an unexpected amount of emotion.
The score quickly crafts its soundscape with a bounciness and quirkiness. Kent’s opening theme hooks you immediately and the rest of the score is actually an incredibly engaging narrative. Kent is never trying to convey comedy or even support it. The music actually builds quite a fantastic journey for the main character. Bateman’s central character lives in this music, and Kent’s score reflects his personality and emotional states. The score actually has moments of quiet emotion that flesh everything out to feel organic. At times the soundscape echoes the smoothness of a jazz lounge and it makes the whole thing feel very true to the characters. It’s a quiet score that basically operates at the same tempo all the way through, it never overpowers. It would be fair to say that it feels like the score is tiptoeing along, and I think through that we get that touch of quirkiness. All in all though it was just a purely joyful listening experience. It’s clearly Rolfe’s style, but it just felt like something new that I haven’t heard before. And I don’t mean to paint an idea of a score with a whole new sound never heard before, it’s a very traditional in approach. It’s just nice to hear a comedy score that doesn’t rely on guitars, electronics and percussion loops.
Bad Words is a character score. You definitely are going on a narrative journey instead of listening to music meant to backup onscreen comedy. Rolfe Kent does a wonderful job building the story, using great melodies and executing it in a style that is original to the characters and plot. I was so pleasantly surprised by this score and love how personally handcrafted it feels. Kent has always been on a quiet streak that deserves more attention. His Labor Day score from last year was fantastic, but I feel went unnoticed. Bad Words shouldn’t go unnoticed either, and is definitely worth your time. The score is the equivalent to a nice home-cooked meal. Sure you can find scores anywhere, but rarely with the craft and care you get from the Kent household.
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